High heels – friend or foe? Does wearing high heels day in and day out increase the risk of forming varicose veins?
Its no secret that high heels are a fashion accessory adored by many, but have you ever wondered if there are any side affects to wearing them? Unfortunately, there is. They can contribute to poor posture, ankle pain, joint pain in your neck and back and believe it or not, high heels can cause varicose veins.
Your foot is home to a rich network of veins, as well as your “foot pump” which is where your body starts to return the blood to your heart. Walking in high heels puts a lot pressure on the muscles and can restrict your veins. If you also have other risk factors for varicose veins then you may want to consider how often you wear those six-inch stilettos!
How can wearing high heels cause varicose veins?
Wearing high heels minimises the full range of motion of your foot and ankle when you are walking. Normally when you walk in flat shoes or trainers, you have a full range of motion. This activates your calf muscle and shoots the blood up through your veins towards the heart and lungs.
However, when you wear high heels, this movement is restricted as you are standing on your toes which keep the calf muscle contracted. As a result, your calf muscle does not pump the blood back through your veins as it should. This lost efficiency can cause the blood in the leg vein to pool.
If you already have visible signs of varicose veins or other risk factors, we highly recommend that you consider taking a break from your Jimmy Choos and grabbing a pair of flats instead.
What are the contributing risk factors for varicose veins?
Other than wearing your heels too often the other risk factors which can lead to varicose veins in people include;
- Genetics: Unfortunately, if both of your parents have varicose veins, there is a 70% chance of you inheriting venous disease
- Gender: Women tend to be more at risk of developing varicose veins
- Pregnancy: Hormonal changes, pressure from the uterus, and increased blood volume make varicose veins common during pregnancy
- Job: Working in a job that requires you to stand for long periods of time
- Obesity: If you are overweight additional pressure is placed on the venous system
Concerned? Here are some tips:
- Limit the height of your heels
- Make sure to wear compression tights with high heels
- Use heel pads to activate your foot and calf pump
- If you are worried about your varicose veins, we recommend that you see a vein specialist and have a vein assessment completed. Here at The Vein Institute, we assess our patients using the latest in technology and provide them with a program of non-surgical treatment to remove varicose veins.